Digital PlanetAuthor: BBC World Service
19 Jan 2021

Digital Planet

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Technological and digital news from around the world.

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    Has tech been compromised in the US Capitol?

    Following the events at the US Capitol this week, photos have emerged on social media showing protestors in offices where what appear to be emails can be seen on screen. Also with access to these offices, could protestors have downloaded sensitive data or compromised the tech in some way? Some cybersecurity experts are even questioning if the whole IT system should be replaced. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai from Vice Motherboard explains the possible risks. Internet shutdown costs in 2020 The website Top10VPN has released its annual report into the costs of internet shutdowns in 2020. They’ve found the economic cost of internet shutdowns in 2020 was $4.01bn, 50% lower than in 2019, however the total duration of disruptions around the world was up 49% from the previous year. One of the report’s authors, Samuel Woodhams, joins us live. The tech that helped bring back the first asteroid samples to Earth The first asteroid samples have reached Earth thanks to some amazing engineering and technology. Chris Edge, Digital Planet listener and IT and communications technician was one of the team that tracked the incoming capsule containing the samples from the asteroid Ryugu so that it could be recovered in the Australian desert. (Image: Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol. Credit: Probal Rashid via Getty Images) The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. Studio Manager: Donald MacDonald. Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Posted on 12 Jan 2021

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    Blindness in the digital age

    Smartphone apps and other digital technologies have completely changed the lives of visually impaired and blind people around the world. This special programme on blindness and digital technology takes us through some of the tech responsible. Motivational speaker Fern Lulham narrates her trip to the shops with her guide-dog Nancy, talking us through the different apps that she uses to help her find her keys, navigate there, and even colour match her clothes. She joins us live. Presenter Gareth speaks with an Ophthalmologist in Delhi, India who is helping to train visually impaired people about how smartphone apps like ‘Be My Eyes’ can improve their independence and quality of life. We meet Brian Mwenda, the Kenyan inventor of the Fourth Eye and the Sixth Sense, two inexpensive, touch-based echo-location technologies that will help to give cheap and high-quality help with mobility for people with visual impairments around the world. (Image: Brian Mwiti Mwenda - Hope Tech Plus) Presenter: Gareth MitchellStudio Expert: Bill Thompson Producer: Rory Galloway

  • Posted on 05 Jan 2021

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    The best tech stories of 2020

    This week Digital Planet looks back on some of the stories we’ve covered in 2020; electricity from Lake Kivu on the Rwandan/DRC border, internet shutdowns across the world, contact tracing apps during the pandemic and how technology has changed digital death rituals and allowed us to grieve. The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington, Angelica Mari and Bill Thompson. (Image credit: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Bob Nettles Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Posted on 29 Dec 2020

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    Solar grid brings power to Yemen

    A solar farm, set and run by women in the Abs district of Yemen is providing cleaner and cheaper electricity to families. Arvind Kumar is Project Manager in the Yemen Country Office of the United Nations Development Programme. He is overseeing the programme and joins us on the show. Tackling climate change with data A global initiative to satellite observations, sensors across land and sea, commercial data sets and even citizen observations from our mobile phones is gathering momentum. Now the UNEP is highlighting environmental data as essential combatting climate change. David Jensen, Head of Policy and Innovation, Crisis Management Branch, UN Environment explains their plans. Smelltech In the world of virtual reality, companies normally focus on images and sound to create the most immersive experience. But there is a new kid on the block: olfactory VR. Companies now seek to capture one of our more neglected senses and recreate smell in a virtual environment. Digital Planet reporter Florian Bohr has been finding out more. The programme is presenter by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Bill Thompson. (Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: Matilda Macari Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Posted on 22 Dec 2020

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    Dispelling COVID-19 vaccine myths online

    Thousands of people in the UK have now received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations have just started in Canada, yet despite promotion from the government, a recent survey shows many people are reluctant to have it. Part of this hesitation is due to misinformation and vaccine myths on social media. Anna-Sophie Harling Managing Director for Europe at NewsGuard– the trust tool web extension provider – talks about their special report on top COVID-19 vaccine myths online. Many of these myths have been circulating online for months so how can governments dispel these falsehoods and convince their populations to be vaccinated? God of Mars PKGE: Production has just started on the world’s first feature-length film to be shot with video game technology. “Gods of Mars” uses something called “the Unreal Engine”, which is normally used to make games like Fortnite and Gears of War. But this time it’s creating all the film’s special effects and virtual environments… from rocket ships to robots! It’s hoped that this kind of technology could save film-makers huge amounts of money. Chris Berrow has been taking a look for us. Data Action In her new book, “Data Action,” Associate Professor Sarah Williams from MIT issues a call for thinking ethically about data today. She’s on the programme to warn of the possibilities of using data for bias and segregation and how we need to learn to see the value behind the numbers. The programme is presented by Gareth Mitchell with expert commentary from Ghislaine Boddington. (Image: Getty Images) Studio Manager: John Boland Producer: Ania Lichtarowicz

  • Posted on 15 Dec 2020

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